New digital magnetograph at big bear solar observatory

Haimin Wang, C. Denker, T. Spirock, P. R. Goode, S. Yang, W. Marquette, J. Varsik, R. J. Fear, J. Nenow, D. D. Dingley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A new digital magnetograph system has been installed and tested at Big Bear Solar Observatory. The system uses part of BBSO's existing videomagnetograph (VMG) system: a quarter wave plate, a ferro-electric liquid crystal to switch polarizations, and a 0.25 Å bandpass Zeiss filter tuned at Ca I 6103 Å. A new 256 × 256 pixels, 12-bit Dalsa camera is used as the detector and as the driver to switch the liquid crystal. The data rate of the camera is 90 frames s-1. The camera is interfaced to a Pentium-166 PC with a μTech imaging board for data acquisition and analysis. The computer has 128 MByte of RAM, and up to 700 live images can be stored in memory for quick post-exposure image processing (image selection and alignment). We have significantly improved the sensitivity and spatial resolution over the old BBSO VMG system. In particular: (1) New digital image data are in 12 bits while the video signal is digitized as 8 bits. Polarizations weaker than 1% can not be detected by a single pair subtraction in the video system. The digital system can detect a polarization signal of about 0.3% by a single pair subtraction. (2) Data rate of the digital system is 90 frames s-1, that of the video system is 30 frames s-1. So the time difference between two polarizations is reduced in the new system. Under good seeing conditions, the data rate of 90 frames s-1 ensures that most of the wavefront distortions are 'frozen' and fairly closely the same for the left and right circular polarized image pairs. (3) Magnetograms are constructed after image selection and alignment. We discuss the characteristics of this new system. We present the results of our first tests to reconstruct magnetograms with speckle interferometric techniques. We also present some preliminary results on the comparison of facular/micropore contrasts and magnetic field structure. The experiment with this small detector lays ground for a larger format digital magnetograph system at BBSO, as well as a future Fabry-Pérot system, which will be able to scan across the spectral line.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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